Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 24, 2012

A new blog -- MLA Jobs, with the slogan "putting the AACK! back in the tenure track" -- is a parody of the sort of job postings for which job seekers hope to interview at the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association. Many of the fake ads poke fun at the increasingly complicated qualifications that departments are seeking (such as multiple, not necessarily related, specialties). Other postings take aim at recent controversies, such as the push by some trustees at the University of Virginia for the institution to expand online.

A fake ad for the university "seeks Professor of English with specialty in 'educational' technology for setting up MOOCs. Position will be responsible for attracting national attention with bombastic, unproven claims about the future of education; ideal candidate will be heavily read in David Brooks." And referring to the recent controversy over job postings that require applicants to have recent Ph.D.s, there is an ad "looking for soft, fresh faces. Stale Ph.D.s are requested to mist themselves prior to applying."

September 24, 2012

The owners of the Hobby Lobby craft store chain on Friday announced that they would give a 217-acre former high school campus in western Massachusetts to the foundation for Grand Canyon University, a for-profit Christian institution. Grand Canyon will open a second on-ground campus at the site, adding to its growing campus in Phoenix and a relatively large online presence. The company hopes to enroll 5,000 students at the new campus by 2018, investing an estimated $150 million in it over five years.

September 24, 2012

OCAD University, an arts institution in Toronto, is reporting progress on dealing with the student uproar over a $180 customized art textbook that contains (due to inability to secure affordable reprint rights) no art. The university announced that Pearson Canada, which produced the custom text for OCAD, has agreed to buy the books back (at a price not yet determined) at the end of the semester. Further, Pearson has agreed to provide the students with free print copies of a text that includes the art referenced in the custom textbook.

 

September 24, 2012

Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, is calling for public colleges and universities to offer students a four-year freeze on tuition, such that each entering class would be assured of paying the same tuition rate for the next four years, The Austin American-Statesman reported. He said this would encourage students to graduate in four years, and would help students avoid high debt levels. "If you get out of the University of Texas with a $50,000 debt, I don’t know if we’ve served you well," he said. In fact, student debt load at UT is not close to that level. Only about half of bachelor's recipients at the University of Texas at Austin borrow, and the average total debt for those who do borrow is just over $25,000.

 

September 24, 2012

A survey commissioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association found that despite rules changes and legislation, the frequency of concussions among football players in all three divisions has remained steady in the past seven years. The survey, which relied on accurate reporting from athletics programs (concussions are notoriously difficult to diagnose, and there has been concern athletes might be reluctant to report one and risk sitting out), found that such head injuries occurred 2.5 times per 1,000 "game-related exposures." Each game or practice counts as one exposure, regardless of the length. That figure is down from 3.4 per 1,000 in 2004-5, but the NCAA said the year-to-year difference is not statistically significant.

The NCAA has put in place a number of safety regulations designed to deter concussions since then, stiffening penalties for blows to the head and requiring players who are injured or show signs of a concussion to sit out a play and be cleared by medical staff before returning to the field. It has also stepped up its emphasis on concussion awareness; in 2010, it began requiring all programs to have a concussion management plan.

When factoring other fall sports of soccer, field hockey and volleyball, concussion frequency also stayed stable, at 1.9 for every 1,000 exposures. David Klossner, director of health and safety for the NCAA, said in a press release that the information is helpful in monitoring trends, “we do not yet have enough information to draw final conclusions.”

September 24, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Darryl de Ruiter of Texas A&M University reveals what we can lean about the diet of Australopithecus through a chemical analysis of their fossilized teeth. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

September 24, 2012

A new report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York finds a relationship between state appropriations cuts and tuition increases in public higher education. The report notes increased interest in the views espoused by critics of higher education that the availability of federal grants and loans has encouraged colleges to increase their charges. But the report looks at the tuition shifts since 2008, and finds that the greatest increases are in states that made the deepest cuts in spending on higher education.

September 24, 2012

London Metropolitan University’s international students will have the opportunity to continue their studies at the institution, assuming their visa status is in order, a High Court judge ruled Friday. The decision comes almost a month after the U.K. Border Authority revoked London Met’s right to sponsor international students, citing “systemic failures” in the verification and monitoring of students’ English proficiency levels, visa status and course attendance.

The university also has gained permission to seek a judicial review of the UKBA's decision, although in the meantime it remains unable to recruit new students from outside the European Union, Times Higher Education reported.

September 24, 2012

The American University in Cairo announced Sunday that it is suspending operations -- including classes -- because protesting students have for the last week been closing the gates to the campus. Closing the gates creates a safety hazard, the statement said, because emergency vehicles would be unable to enter. "The obstruction of access and the prevention of other students from receiving the education to which they are entitled will not be tolerated. The administration will be taking disciplinary action against those students who obstructed access and behaved in ways inconsistent with university policy," said the statement. The students are angry over tuition increases. University officials said that they have been negotiating with the students, but that some of the protest demands (such as rescinding this year's tuition increase) are not possible.


 

September 24, 2012

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Friday told an audience at the University of Florida that he doesn't trust rankings of law schools and that he may have a bias against those who graduated from so-called top law schools, the Associated Press reported. Thomas is a graduate of Yale University's law school, but he said that "my new bias, which I now embrace, is that I don't eliminate the Ivies in hiring, but I intentionally prefer kids from regular backgrounds and regular  students."

He said he has been thinking about rankings since his law clerks -- graduates of law schools that aren't at the top of various rankings -- told him that they were being mocked on law blogs as "TTT," for "third-tier trash." Thomas said he doesn't believe that the best talent comes from highly ranked law schools. "I never look at those rankings. I don't even know where they are. I thought U.S. News & World Report was out of business," Thomas said. "There are smart kids every place. They are male, they are female, they are black, they're white, they're from the West, they're from the South, they're from public schools, they're from public universities, they're from poor families, they're from sharecroppers, they're from all over.... I look at the kid who shows up. Is this a kid that could work for me?"

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